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Canadian women’s soccer kicks off a busy stretch for club and country

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The Canadian women’s soccer team is kicking up its Olympic prep

This summer in Tokyo, the team will play for its third consecutive Olympic medal after winning the bronze matches in 2012 and ’16. On April 21 — exactly three months from the start of the tournament — Canada will learn its path to another podium when the draw to assign teams their opponents for the group stage is held.

In the meantime, many of Canada’s players are kicking off a busy stretch for both club and country. Here’s what happening:

Club

The U.S.-based National Women’s Soccer League returns today with the second installment of the Challenge Cup. The month-long tournament was born last summer as an alternative to trying to pull off a conventional regular season and playoffs during a pandemic. It went well enough that the NWSL decided to keep the Challenge Cup and use it to kick off the 2021 season. The tournament runs through May 8 and will be followed by a 24-match (for each team) regular season from May 15-Oct. 30. The NWSL playoffs open Nov. 6 and culminate with the championship game on Nov. 20.

A few things are different about this year’s Challenge Cup. It won’t be played in a bubble, like last year’s in Salt Lake City. Matches will take place in teams’ home stadiums, with some fans in attendance where allowed. There are 10 teams this time, not eight. The Orlando Pride are back after missing the 2020 tournament because of an outbreak, while Racing Louisville FC joins as an expansion team. Also, New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC was rebranded as NJ/NY Gotham FC.

More than a dozen Canadians play in the NWSL, including four on the defending Challenge Cup champion Houston Dash. Canadian national-team captain and all-time international goals leader Christine Sinclair is still with Portland Thorns FC. Get a full breakdown of the Challenge Cup — including details on each team and their key players — by reading this piece by CBC Sports’ Signa Butler.

While the top women’s pro soccer league in North America is just kicking off, Europe’s top club competition is nearing an end. Three of the four spots in the UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinals are filled, and the last will be decided April 18. That’s when French powerhouse Lyon, which is going for its sixth consecutive title, plays the second leg of its quarter-final matchup vs. Paris Saint-Germain. Lyon won the opener 1-0 on the road before the second leg was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.

Canadian defender Kadeisha Buchanan plays for Lyon, and fellow national-team members Jordyn Huitema and Ashley Lawrence are on PSG. There’s one Canadian on the three teams who have already made the semis: Chelsea midfielder Jessie Fleming.

Country

The Canadian women’s national team played its first match since February’s SheBelieves Cup tournament today in Wales. Canada, ranked eighth in the world, won the friendly 3-0 over the 31st-ranked Welsh. There was some bad news, though, as Sinclair left in the first half with an apparent foot or ankle injury. The extent of the injury was unclear at our publish time. Next up is a friendly vs. No. 6 England on Tuesday.

Buchanan was left off Canada’s roster for the friendlies as her club deals with its outbreak, and veteran midfielder Diana Matheson was also among the players listed as out for “medical reasons.” But just about every other key player is there in the UK as rookie coach Bev Priestman ramps up preparations for the Olympics. Sinclair and several other NWSL players are missing the start of the Challenge Cup for these matches. For more on the pair of friendlies and why they’re important for Canada, read this story by Signa Butler.

Deanne Rose opened the scoring in the first half, as Canada went on to beat Wales 3-0 in an international friendly in Cardiff in the United Kingdom. 1:07

Quickly…

Canada scraped into the playoffs at the men’s curling world championship. Last night’s clutch 6-4 win over Norway clinched a spot in the six-team playoffs and also guaranteed Canada an entry in the 2022 Olympic men’s tournament. Both were in doubt after Brendan Bottcher’s rink lost back-to-back tough matchups vs. Russia and defending champion Sweden on Wednesday. The pressure is off a bit now, but the Canadians are still in a tough spot. After beating Germany today to finish the round robin with a 9-4 record, they’re going to wind up either third or fourth in the standings. That means having to win an elimination game tonight at 9 p.m. ET in order to join Russia, Sweden and the winner of the other elimination game in the semifinals. At our publish time, Canada’s opponent was still unknown. But you can follow CBC Sports curling reporter Devin Heroux’s Twitter feed for up-to-the-second updates. You can also join Devin and Colleen Jones for That Curling Show tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on the CBC Sports YouTube channel. They’ll be setting up Canada’s game and the rest of the playoffs.

Justin Rose stayed atop the Masters. The 2016 Olympic gold medallist shot a 7-under first round yesterday to open up a four-shot lead. Some of that evaporated today as Rose meandered to an even-par second round, but he still led by two strokes at our publish time. Canadian Mackenzie Hughes will easily make the cut after shooting a pair of even-par rounds, and Corey Conners is looking good too. Just before our publish time, he eagled the par-5 13th to move to 2-under. Former champ Mike Weir, who’s no longer a serious contender, shot 1-under today but will miss the cut as he’s still 5-over for the tournament. See the updated leaderboard here.

Chris Boucher had the night of his life. Making just the seventh start of his NBA career, the 28-year-old big man from Montreal put up career highs in points (38) and rebounds (19) in last night’s 122-113 Raptors loss to Chicago. With Toronto down to eight available players due to injuries, health-and-safety protocol and a suspension, Boucher also played a career-high 36 minutes. Read more about the game and watch Boucher’s highlights here.

This weekend on CBC Sports

Olympic Games Replay: The theme of this week’s show is “jaw-dropping Winter Olympic moments.” It includes the wild women’s snowboard cross final from the 2006 Games in Turin, the exciting men’s slopestyle events from 2014 and ’18, and of course the classic 2014 women’s hockey final that Canada rallied to win over the U.S. Watch the show Saturday from 3-6 p.m. ET on the CBC TV network, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.

Women’s hockey: The latest stop on the Dream Gap Tour is in St. Louis, in partnership with the Blues. Watch Sunday’s game live at 6 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.

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CBC | Soccer News

Arizona, Stanford carry Pac-12 banner in women’s title game

The last time that Tara VanDerveer and Stanford were playing for a national championship, the Pac-12 had just 10 schools and the Cardinal were the standard bearer for the conference.

Now 11 years later, the Pac-12 is on top of the women’s basketball world with the Cardinal facing Arizona on Sunday night for the title. The conference is guaranteed its first champion since the hall of fame coach and the Cardinal won their last title in 1992.

“I’m really proud of the Pac-12 to have two teams in the national championship game,” VanDerveer said. “You know, this is not something that a lot of people could have imagined … 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago. And it’s really, really exciting.”

Stanford was last in the title game in 2010, losing to UConn in the Alamodome — the same building the Cardinal will be playing in on Sunday night. The conference became the Pac-12 a year later after expansion. The league has had six different schools in the Final Four since 2013, but none reached the title game until Friday night when both Stanford and Arizona advanced.

“In the Pac-12 we’ve been saying all along we have the best teams in the country and to have two Pac-12 teams speaks for itself,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. “Stanford won the Pac-12 championship and we were second. Both of us in the Final Four and championship game, it means a lot for our conference.”

To get to Sunday night’s game the Cardinal held on to beat South Carolina 66-65 on a basket by Haley Jones with 32 seconds left Friday night. After Jones’ shot but the Cardinal up, Stanford survived two last-second misses by the Gamecocks.

Arizona didn’t need any last-second karma to beat the Huskies 69-59. Wildcats All-America Aari McDonald scored 26 points and the team played stifling defence to put the clamps on UConn

“No one thought we’d win, no one thought we’d be here,” Barnes said. “We don’t care. We believed in each other. We believed, our team believed.”

McDonald has been a huge reason why. The 5-foot-6 guard, who is lightning quick, is one of the rare two-way players in the game who can impact contests on both ends of the court.

Sunday night’s game will pit two teams from west of the Mississippi against each other for the first time since 1986.

A few tidbits to look for in Sunday’s women’s title game:

Third time the charm?

Arizona lost twice to Stanford during the regular season, but both teams are much improved from their last meeting on Feb. 22 which the Cardinal won 62-48.

“What’s on our side is it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season,” Barnes said. “We’re a lot better and so is Stanford. Speaking about us, we’re shooting the ball better, defending better and playing better basketball than when we played them.”

Barnes has turned to VanDerveer many times over the course of the season for advice. The Arizona coach’s respect goes back to her playing days for the Wildcats in the late 1990s.

“She’s someone who will always be honest, and it’s never honesty to benefit Stanford,” Barnes said. “She’s someone who wants to support you. She’s very secure and wants to help women develop and wants to grow the game. She’s an advocate for women’s basketball and I have the most respect for her.”

Growing the game

Barnes became the fourth Black woman to lead a team to the championship game, joining C. Vivian Stringer, Carolyn Peck and Dawn Staley.

Pokey Chatman guided LSU to the Final Four in 2005 and 2006.

“It just means the world. I think I represent a lot of different things, but representation matters, opportunities matter. When we’re given opportunity, we can flourish,” Barnes said. “I was given an opportunity by an (athletic director) that believed in a young coach that had only been coaching five years. This is only my fifth-year as a head coach. I was a five-year assistant, a 13-year pro.

“Someone believed in me, saw something in me that maybe I didn’t even see in myself at the time.”

There have also been two Black men to have guide teams to the women’s Final Four. Quentin Hillsman led Syracuse to the title game in 2016 and Winthrop McGriff took Cheney to the national semifinals in 1984.

WATCH | How the trade deadline affected Canadian NBA stars:

On the latest episode of North Courts, Vivek, Jevohn, and Meghan discuss Canadians in the NBA, how the trade deadline affects them, and the first ever all-female NBA broadcast. 16:07

Only 13 Black women were head coaches at Power Five programs this season. Barnes said there is a perception that female Black coaches are just recruiters since a majority of their players are Black.

“We can recruit but we’re not only recruiters,” Barnes said before offering advice to other Black female coaches “Don’t allow yourself as a female, as a black female, to be pigeonholed into one thing. Learn, work on your trade, study, pull someone else along as a woman, as a woman of colour. Aspire big, do big things. Don’t let yourself be pigeonholed in one thing.”

Canadians playing in final

Two Canadians will be playing on Sunday’s final as Stanford has Toronto’s Alyssa Jerome on its roster. Arizona, meanwhile, has Shaina Pellington of Pickering, Ont. 

Jerome has played in 27 games and started one this season and is averaging 1.6 points. She has appeared in three games in the tournament but has yet to record a point.

Pellington, meanwhile, has had a much bigger role as she has played in 26 games including seven post-season games. In the post-season, she is averaging 4.3 points in 14 minutes per game.

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Bayern eliminate Canada’s Labbé, FC Rosengård in women’s Champions League

Bayern Munich will face Chelsea and Canadian midfield-sensation Jessie Fleming in the semifinals of the Women’s Champions League after dispatching Swedish club FC Rosengård 1-0 on Thursday.

Lea Schuller headed in the winner past Canadian international goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé to seal the German side’s win, and 4-0 total-aggregate victory over two-legs. 

Barcelona reached the final four by eliminating Manchester City — which also featured Canada’s Janine Beckie –  on Wednesday.

The Spanish side awaits either five-time defending champion Lyon or Paris Saint-Germain, whose quarter-final second leg was moved to April 18 after a coronavirus outbreak in the Lyon squad. Lyon leads 1-0.

WATCH | Canada’s Beckie sweeps in opening goal as Man City ousted by Barcelona:

Canadian striker Janine Beckie scored the opening goal as Manchester City beat Barcelona 2-1, but fell 4-2 on aggregate scoring in the second leg of the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-finals. 0:43

The battle of French rivals features Toronto’s Kadeisha Buchanan for Lyon, while both Jordyn Huitema of Chilliwack, B.C., and Ashley Lawrence of Toronto line up for PSG.

Chelsea advanced by eliminating two-time champion Wolfsburg. The final is scheduled for May 16 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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Underwhelming women’s weight room in NCAA bubble prompts questions of inequity

The teams had barely landed in Texas when complaints of inequity between the women’s and men’s tournaments roared over social media posts noting the women’s weight training facilities in San Antonio were severely lacking compared to what the men have in Indianapolis. Both tournaments field 64 teams.

In an Instagram post, Stanford sports performance coach for women’s basketball Ali Kershner posted a photo of a single stack of weights next to a training table with sanitized yoga mats, comparing it to pictures of massive facilities for the men with stacks of free weights, dumbells and squat racks.

“These women want and deserve to be given the same opportunities,” Kershner tweeted. “In a year defined by a fight for equality this is a chance to have a conversation and get better.”

Several top former college and current WNBA players quickly tweeted support for the women and criticism of the NCAA.


“That NCAA bubble weight room situation is beyond disrespectful,” tweeted A’ja Wilson, who led South Carolina to the 2017 national championship and now plays for the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA.

NCAA Senior Vice-President of women’s basketball Lynn Holzman said the governing body would try to quickly improve the equipment available at the women’s tournament. The original setup was limited because of a lack of available space in San Antonio, with plans to expand once the tournament field shrunk in the later rounds.

“We acknowledge that some of the amenities teams would typically have access to have not been as available inside the controlled environment. In part, this is due to the limited space and the original plan was to expand the workout area once additional space was available later in the tournament,” Holzman said. “However, we want to be responsive to the needs of our participating teams, and we are actively working to enhance existing resources at practice courts, including additional weight training equipment.”


Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Insell said his team hasn’t seen the weight room yet, but has not seen anything else to indicate that the women are getting anything less than the men.

“I saw something on Twitter about the men’s weight room is a lot different and things were being given to the men that were not being given to the women, but I haven’t seen any of that here,” Insell said. “Now, maybe later on we’ll get to see what’s going on. But, right now we’re kind of just going to practice, going to eat and going to your room.”

COVID test results

The NCAA has administered nearly 2,700 tests so far and only one has come back positive which was a great sign for the women’s basketball tournament.

NCAA Senior Vice-President of women’s basketball Lynn Holzman revealed the numbers on a media call Thursday morning, but did not identify who tested positive.

“From the report I received this morning over the past two days, close to 2,700 tests were performed that included the members of the travel parties, bus drivers and staff and only one confirmed positive test,” she said. “It’s a testament to all those involved in our championship. So given the sheer number of individuals involved in this, where we sit currently today, I’m pleased where we’re at.”

Holzman also said that all 64 teams announced Monday in the bracket have arrived safely in Texas so none of the replacement teams will be needed.

“We continue to emphasis the need for us to make sure we’re conducting our championship in a safe manner,” she said.

Everyone will continue to be tested daily.

Obama makes his pick

Former President Barack Obama picked Baylor to win the national championship this year beating Stanford in the championship game.

Obama had N.C. State and Maryland in the Final Four with the two No. 1 seeds. That would mean that the Terrapins, who Obama had picked against a few years ago in his bracket when his niece was playing for Princeton and they were tournament opponents, would knock off Dawn Staley’s South Carolina team in the regional final.

Staley had some fun with Obama on Twitter.

“@BarackObama I’m telling @MichelleObama……it’s obviously you did not confer with her. We will forgive not forget. You’re still our guy tho.”

Obama mostly went with the better seeded teams to advance in the first round. He did have No. 6 Oregon being knocked off by 11th-seeded South Dakota.


Draft deadline

The WNBA announced April 15 as its draft date for this season.

Every eligible player who would like to make themselves available for the draft must opt-in by renouncing their remaining intercollegiate eligibility.

A player who wishes to opt-in must email the league no later than April 1. If a player is competing in the Final Four, the player has up to 48 hours after her last game finishes to let the league know if she plans on entering the draft.

In the past, players who have run out of college eligibility are automatically entered into the draft. This became more of an issue this season when all the players were granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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International Women’s Day 2021

Eva Havaris has been through nearly everything in her 20-plus years as a Canadian sports executive. From being the only woman in the boardroom and a CEO at 30, to having people treat and speak to her differently because of her gender, it’s been a journey with bumps and barriers along the way.   

“It’s only been the last few years that I’ve thought and reflected on that and for sure there’s been challenges because of my gender,” Havaris said. “Even when you do prove yourself, you still have to prove yourself. I find that’s pretty consistent across the [sports] system.”  

Now the executive vice-president of strategy and operations/chief of staff for the Canadian Premier League franchise York FC, Havaris started the Leadership Mindset by Design, a combination of virtual one-on-one and group sessions to help emerging and established leaders reach their full potential in the sports and coaching worlds and beyond.   

“I was there and didn’t have someone that looked like me, that was relatable, to actually be a confidant for me and say ‘hey wait, actually some of this stuff that’s going on this is not you, it’s the environment that you’re in, it’s some of the people and some of their own wounds and some of their insecurities,'” she said. “It took me years to figure that out.” 

One bright spot in the COVID-19 pandemic has been a spotlight on women excelling in leadership roles, particularly in government and health authorities. In the coaching and sports executive realm, there have been significant milestones, too.

As a Canadian example, Havaris had a short runway of two and a half weeks to pull together the 2020 Island Games for the CPL, which involved eight teams and 300-plus individuals over a six-week bubble in Charlottetown. 


(Photo by Jodianne Beckford)

There are multiple other instances of women rolling up their sleeves when the going got tough and others being among the first to ever serve in their position. 

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and the WNBA Players’ Association collaborated on a landmark collective bargaining agreement, giving all players a livable wage, proper travel conditions and maternity benefits, to name a few. That on top of the heavy lifting the players did in fighting for social justice.  

Lisa Baird took on the job of commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League just two days before the sports world came to a halt. In her first five months, she navigated a return to sport during a pandemic — it was the first North American pro league to restart —  negotiated a landmark broadcast deal, secured big-name sponsors and announced a star-studded ownership group for expansion franchise in Los Angeles. 

The aforementioned Angel City FC, owned by women tech entrepreneurs, Hollywood stars and Olympians, spawned other women athletes to step up into ownership groups, including four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka with the North Carolina Courage and U.S. hockey Olympic gold medallist Kendall Coyne Schofield and ESPN personality Sarah Spain with the Chicago Red Stars. 

Kim Ng became the first woman to hold a full-time general manager role in any of the major men’s sports leagues in the United States. She was chosen for the top job by the Miami Marlins after spending three decades with the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball. 

Becky Hammon became the first woman to coach a major American professional men’s team in December when she ran the San Antonio Spurs bench after head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected during a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. There are eight women coaching full-time in the NFL, including Maral Javadifar and Lori Locust of the Super Bowl LV champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Red Sox hired Bianca Smith as a minor league coach, making her the first Black woman to serve as an on-field coach in baseball history. 

“There’s an adage: You can’t be it if you can’t see it,” said Ng when she was introduced by the Marlins back in November. “Now you can see it.”


Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng walks around a field during spring training practice in Jupiter, Fla., in February. (Associated Press)

But despite all the high-profile firsts, there is still room to grow. 

“Anecdotally it certainly feels like we’re seeing progress in that there are some really visible examples of women gaining access to leadership spaces that women have been almost entirely excluded from historically,” said Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, president and CEO of Canadian Women and Sport. 

“What we need to stay awake to is that the success of one woman in this space does not necessarily mean there is the structural change that needs to happen for us to get to a place of real equity, where women are equally respected, and valued and hired and promoted and paid in those.

“Progress for sure, but we just need to be careful about celebrating it as if we’ve accomplished [balance] yet.”

After a stellar soccer career at Western, Havaris went into sport management, first landing at Rugby Canada then spending the next eight years at national sport organizations such as Taekwondo Canada and Equestrian Canada. She got her first CEO job at the age of 30. In some of those early roles, she would look around the boardroom at people much older than her and as much as there were incredible people supporting her journey, she was still looking around for someone she could truly relate to. Her work now is helping women avoid some of the obstacles she faced. 


Actors Natalie Portman, left, and Eva Longoria are two of the women that make up the ownership group of the expansion NWSL team in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)


NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird, left, presents the Challenge Cup to Rachel Daly of the Houston Dash after the championships game in July. (Getty Images)

Limiting language

“It’s saving people from going down a path or a hole or even before they see these [barriers] so they can be in their early 30s at an executive position just like I was 12 years ago,” she said. “There’s some things that I experienced that I know didn’t need to be as difficult if I’d had a great confidant with me. And we’re able to talk it through, do it in a safe place, put it all on the table.”

What she hears most from the women in her groups is limiting language and the feeling that they can’t use their voice. Things like ‘I’m not confident’ or ‘I’m not your typical leadership type’ or the feeling like they need to settle in their careers or they know where they want to go but feel like they can’t fully express themselves to get there.  

By diving into some of their often inherited negative thoughts and then their strengths, values and how they want to show up for others, that’s when she says the ‘aha moment’ comes.  

“That’s when the boulders fall off of them,” she said. “You can feel the weight just drop and go away and now they’re just on fire, to show up exactly who they are.”


Havaris, right, played and coached soccer and is now an executive with York FC of the Canadian Premier League. (Courtesy Eva Havaris)

Poor representation

Increasing the numbers of women in sports leadership positions in Canada, especially in coaching, continues to be a challenge toward finding equity. One of the findings in Canadian Women and Sport’s 2020 Rally report was poor representation of women in leadership roles. 

“We do have a system where 75 per cent of coaches are men and in some sports it might be 100 per cent, so a lot of girls are growing up in a sport where all the experts, all the authorities in their sport that they can see, that are visible to them are men,” Sandmeyer-Graves said. “So unless someone says to them, you’d be really good at this, have you thought about it, they will probably maintain an identity of a participant and never imagine themselves in another role in their sports.

“Having women in those daily training environments, as those authorities and those experts just subconsciously signals to girls that this is something that women do. That on its own can be very powerful.” 

Seika Hashimoto was recently promoted to president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, replacing Yoshiro Mori after it was revealed he’d made disparaging remarks about women. One of her first moves was to appoint 12 more women to the seven who already sat on the 45-member executive board — changing the male-female ratio on the board from 80-20 to 60-40. Not equal, but a step in the right direction, and an example of how women in leadership positions can make an immediate impact for women who follow.

But for all the steps forward, Sandmeyer-Graves warns that diligence is required to prevent slipping back.

“In Canada there has been progress when it comes to women in senior leadership roles, the CEOs of our national sports and other major bodies like Own The Podium and the Coaching Association … We’re creeping toward parity which is exciting, but our data last year showed that in some areas we started to backslide a little bit and so what we know is if we don’t pay attention to this and make this a priority, progress can really quickly be unwound.”

SHATTERED GLASS | CBC Sports reflects on International Women’s Day:

CBC Sports’ Anastasia Bucsis wants to know when society will address the injustices faced by women everyday. 2:05

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Homan, Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

The favourites set the tone in championship pool play Friday at the Canadian women’s curling championship.

With a few surprise teams making the eight-team cut, perennial contenders Rachel Homan, Jennifer Jones and Kerri Einarson posted afternoon victories and showed why they’re good bets to reach the playoffs.

  • Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live every day of The Scotties at 7:30 p.m. ET on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

“With only three teams advancing, you can’t have very many losses to advance,” Jones said. “So we know that and we know we’re going to have to play every game as though we have to get that W and hopefully we perform well.”

Homan’s Ontario team stole a point in the 10th end for a 7-6 victory over Chelsea Carey’s Team Wild Card One and then came back for an 8-7 win over Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges in an extra end.

That left Homan in top spot at 9-1 with Einarson, the defending champion, who topped Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson 10-6 before eliminating Carey from playoff contention with a 9-3 rout.

THAT CURLING SHOW | Previewing weekend play at the Scotties:

The drama is ramping up at the Scotties and Devin Heroux and Colleen Jones have all your predictions and scenarios. 49:50

Jones’s Manitoba team earned a split on the day to sit in a tie for third place at 7-3 with Alberta’s Laura Walker. Jones posted a 12-8 win over Beth Peterson of Team Wild Card Three before dropping a 7-5 decision to Walker.

“I guess mandatory is a good word for it,” Walker said of the win. “We needed it and I’m proud of the way we went out there and got it.”

With Anderson sitting out the nightcap with an injury, alternate Amber Holland threw fourth stones for Saskatchewan. She dropped a 10-9 decision to Peterson in an extra end that left both teams tied with Quebec at 6-4.

Earlier, Walker edged St-Georges 7-6 in an extra end. Saskatchewan and Quebec had an unexpected share of the Pool B lead after the preliminary round.

THAT CURLING SHOW | Laura Walker defeats Jennifer Jones:

Laura Walker beats Jennifer Jones 7-5, Alberta and Manitoba are now tied with 7-3 records. 0:51

Carey (5-5), who’s filling in at skip for Tracy Fleury this week, barely missed a runback double-takeout attempt with her final shot against Homan, who put the pressure on with two protected stones near the button.

“They hung in there with me and we made some good ones in the end,” Homan said of teammates Emma Miskew, Sarah Wilkes and Joanne Courtney.

Jones, who’s aiming for a record seventh Scotties Tournament of Hearts title, stole five points in the 10th for her afternoon victory. Einarson was also tested early in that draw before a late deuce sealed the win.

Two more draws were set for Saturday at the Markin MacPhail Centre. The top three teams in the eight-team pool will reach the playoffs on Sunday.

The second- and third-place teams will meet in an afternoon semifinal for a berth in the evening final against the first-place team.

The Hearts winner will return as Team Canada at the 2022 national playdowns in Thunder Bay, Ont. The champion will also earn a berth in the Olympic Trials in November at Saskatoon.

The men’s national championship — the Tim Hortons Brier — starts March 5 at the same Canada Olympic Park venue. The Hearts is the first of six bonspiels to be held at the arena through late April.

THAT CURLING SHOW | Ben Herbert logs Scotties championship predictions:

The Olympic gold medallist breaks down the competition heading into the weekend in the Calgary bubble. 3:26

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Canada women’s soccer headed in right direction despite frustrating SheBelieves Cup

In their first action in nearly a year, it was a mixed bag for the Canadian women’s soccer team at the SheBelieves Cup.

With a new coach and a plethora of injuries and roster challenges, what should we make of their one-win, two-loss performance?

Did the tournament help answer any roster questions ahead of the Tokyo Olympics five months from now? What are the main areas that need to be worked on? We address those questions and more.

Was the tournament a success for Canada?

Yes and no.

It was a bit of a mystery what to expect from Canada going into the SheBelieves Cup given it had been 11 months since they last were together.

They have a new coach in Bev Priestman along with major roster challenges prior to the tournament, like injuries and club commitments.

WATCH | CBC Sports assesses Canada’s performance at the SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro and Harjeet Johal, to assess Team Canada’s performance in their debut at the SheBelieves Cup and which players made the most of their opportunity, for the notably short-handed Canadian side. 7:20

Given those hurdles, the team played fairly well. With half the players on in-season form and the rest just getting started, they put up a stout performance against the world champion United States, keeping a clean sheet until Rose Lavelle’s goal in the 79th minute.

Priestman also had the opportunity to build the program’s depth, giving four players (Evelyne Viens, Jordyn Listro, Jade Rose and Samantha Chang) their first cap.

Can we already give Bev Priestman a fair assessment?

No, but the team seems to be heading in the right direction.

No coach, especially one thrust into the position just four months before, should be judged based on a team missing six to seven starters, including three of its top players — Christine Sinclair, Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence.

The team defended very well outside of the miscues versus Brazil where it conceded two goals. Centre back Shelina Zadorsky’s leadership and quality was on display as the only defender consistently in the starting 11.

Canada also played quite well out of the back and stayed patient, which was something Priestman had hoped the team would accomplish. There was rarely a panicked clearance or ill-advised pass up the pitch.

From all player accounts, they’ve been impressed with Priestman’s preparation and communication. According to Desiree Scott, who wore the captain’s armband in Sinclair’s absence, there was a “good vibe” at camp.

Priestman’s next appearance on the sidelines with Canada will be in an April 13 friendly against her native England, with whom she served as an assistant for over two years.

What areas must Canada address ahead of Tokyo?

Canada’s goal for Tokyo is well-stated. After back-to-back bronze, it’s about changing the colour of the medal.

However, to do that Canada will need to beat top tier opposition and score goals. Two things the Canadians have been lacking the last couple years.

In its last 10 matches against top 10 nations, Canada has zero wins, eight losses and two draws. Not exactly confidence-boosting results. The last win against a top nation came against England in April 2019.

Goal scoring has been even more of a concern.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Signa Butler explains the SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler breaks down the basics of the SheBelieves Cup, and what participating in the tournament means for Team Canada 2:41

Canada scored just one goal in three games at the SheBelieves Cup and if you look at those last 10 games against top 10 nations, Canada was outscored 20-3. Remember, these are the majority of teams you have to beat en route to the medal round in Tokyo.

But Priestman looks to the opening game against the No. 1 Americans as a reference point in this tournament of what Canada is capable of, even without key players.

“I think the group is more determined than ever. They’ve told me they want to change the colour of the medal and to do that we need to get fitter, we need to keep pushing forward, we need to be more clinical,” she said post-tournament.

Other than Sinclair, Janine Beckie is Canada’s top goal scorer among active players with 31 and she was among those irked by missed chances at the SheBelieves.

“It’s frustrating to look at this tournament and see that we only put one chance away. As a forward, I take that on my back, along with the others who play in the front line,” Beckie said after Canada’s final game.

Biggest battles going into Tokyo squad selection?

Goalkeeping appears set in stone with Kailen Sheridan and Stephanie Labbe. Sheridan suffered an injury early in the opening match against the U.S., so that will need to be monitored. It’s a position of depth with McLeod, Sabrina D’Angelo and uncapped Rylee Foster, a former youth international who made the roster for SheBelieves.

To make the 18-player roster, having the versatility to play multiple positions is definitely an asset.

The fullback situation is intact from Rio with returnees Allysha Chapman, Buchanan, Zadorsky and Lawrence. Two leading candidates to join them are Gabrielle Carle and Jayde Riviere, who suffered an injury in the Brazil game. Both can play wingback and move forward in attack.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Signa Butler chats with Canadian soccer player Deanne Rose:

Deanne Rose speaks with Signa Butler about going in the first round of the NWSL draft, dealing with the pandemic, and the SheBelieves cup. 3:07

Playing her way onto the radar in a big way was Bordeaux centre back Vanessa Gilles. What she may lack in pace, she makes up for in positioning and hard-nosed defending.

The biggest battle will be in the midfield and it’s a position Canada needs to solidify especially if they expect to compete against those top nations.

The five returning midfielders are Scott, Sophie Schmidt, Diana Matheson, Quinn, and Jessie Fleming. Julia Grosso, who did not play at the SheBelieves, Canada’s lone goalscorer Sarah Stratigakis and Listro wait in the wings.

To inject some youth into the midfield lineup, Priestman may have to make tough choices or make room through carrying less forwards or defenders. The 2023 World Cup isn’t far off, so having some younger players at the Olympics will be crucial for carrying on the team’s legacy once the veteran core retires.

As for the strikers, four of the five from Rio are still playing and appear to be locks — Sinclair, Beckie, Nichelle Prince and Deanne Rose. Again, if Priestman carries five strikers there is just one position up for grabs and several candidates to take it — Huitema, Adriana Leon and Évelyne Viens.

The 19-year-old Huitema (13 goals in 33 appearances) and 28-year-old Leon (19 goals in 69 caps) have the upperhand on Viens, who made her first appearance for Canada at any level in the SheBelieves, coming in as a substitute in all three matches.

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No ‘moral victory’ in Canada’s women’s soccer loss to U.S at SheBelieves Cup

In the wake of Canada’s 1-0 loss to the U.S. in the SheBelieves Cup on Thursday night, an American commentator suggested the Canadian post-game locker-room would be all smiles. Canada, the commentator thought, would be pleased with the moral victory of a one-goal loss to the world’s No. 1-ranked team.

Defender Shelina Zadorsky scoffed at the notion Canada was just happy to be there.

“It’s funny, because when we came into camp, we had a meeting about our mindset and our goals and vision as a team. We obviously come with humility, that’s kind of in our Canadian DNA, but at the same time, it’s being a consistently winning team, and a consistently excellent team,” Zadorsky said.

“I think that’s where we can grow in the sense of letting the world know that we are a top nation, and that we are good enough to beat Tier 1 teams. So for us, we’re disappointed, because no matter how well we played, we lost the game.”

‘The winning mentality was there’

Despite missing several key players including star striker Christine Sinclair, the Canadians kept the U.S. off the scoresheet until the 79th minute. Canada’s first match in nearly a year, thanks to COVID-19, held plenty of promise just five months out from the Tokyo Olympics. The Canadians are two-time defending Olympic bronze medallists.

“We know that’s how fine the margins are against Tier 1 opposition,” said Zadorsky. “It’s obviously positive, we created those goal-scoring chances, but at the same time, we lost the game. And so, it’s looking at it realistically that, yes, the winning mentality was there. But we still have a little ways to go to be able to get it across the line against the best nations.”

Canada faces Argentina in the four-country tournament on Sunday at Exploria Stadium. The team reviewed the U.S. game on Friday then planned to begin previewing Argentina on Friday night.

The game also marked the debut of head coach Bev Priestman. The 34-year-old, who worked for Canada Soccer from 2013 to 2018, took over last November after Kenneth Heiner-Moller accepted a coaching job in his native Denmark.

WATCH | What to expect from Team Canada at SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro and Harjeet Johal, to discuss the notable omissions from Canada’s roster and their expectations for the team against top tier competition in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup 6:59

“I’m really enjoying working with Bev, she’s sophisticated, she’s easy to speak to, she’s a great communicator. And I think her focus has been really to shift our mindset . . . getting the mindset back to believing we’re going to beat the best in the world,” Zadorsky said.

Zadorsky arrived in Orlando from her Tottenham Hotspur team, and said the biggest adjustment was playing in the Florida heat.

The 28-year-old was impressed with Vanessa Gilles, who earned her third cap filling in on the back line for the absent Kadeisha Buchanan.

Zadorsky said the team calls Gilles “the magnet” because of the way she uses her strength and power to get to the ball and clear it.

“In a game against the U.S. you really need to take care of your individual defending and she did that absolutely brilliantly,” Zadorsky said. “In my mind, she was Man of the Match. It was awesome playing beside her, and I think it’s exciting knowing we have this calibre of centre backs for Canada.”

Argentina lost 4-1 to rival Brazil on Thursday. Canada faces Brazil on Wednesday.

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The Canadian women’s soccer team is back — here’s what to know

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

The Canadian women’s soccer team is back

The back-to-back Olympic bronze medallists will play their first match in close to a year tonight at 7 p.m. ET when they face the United States at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando. Here’s a catchup on the Canadian team as it begins to ramp up for the Tokyo Olympics in five months:

The SheBelieves Cup is a quick, four-team event. Canada, the U.S., Brazil and Argentina will play each other once, and whoever finishes with the best record wins the tournament. There’s no playoff round. Canada’s other matches are Sunday at 6 p.m. ET vs. Argentina and Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET vs. Brazil. The U.S., which has won the last two Women’s World Cups, is ranked No. 1 in the world. Canada and Brazil are tied for eighth and Argentina is 31st.

Don’t read too much into Canada’s results, though. Six key players are missing, either due to injury or because they’re playing for their clubs in Europe. Canada will be without captain Christine Sinclair, four-time UEFA Women’s Champions League title winner Kadeisha Buchanan, Diana Matheson, Erin McLeod, Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema.

On the bright side, this creates an opportunity for younger players. Janine Beckie and Jessie Fleming are among those who’ll have a chance to take on a bigger role and show they deserve to keep it once the roster returns to full strength. Another interesting player to watch, says CBC Sports’ Signa Butler, is 24-year-old forward Evelyne Viens. She’s never played at the international level, but Viens scored 73 goals in 77 matches for her U.S. college team and has eight goals in 12 matches this season for Paris FC, which loaned her from Sky Blue FC of the National Women’s Soccer League.

Tonight’s match could be tough. Canada is 3-50-7 all-time vs. the Americans and hasn’t beaten them since 2001. Their most recent meeting came last February, in the final of their regional Olympic qualifying tournament. The match didn’t mean much because both teams had clinched a spot in Tokyo by winning their semifinals, but the result was familiar: a 3-0 U.S. win. The Americans have since extended their unbeaten streak to 34 matches, including back-to-back routs of Colombia last month in their first action since March. The Canada-U.S. match is available live only on the streaming service OneSoccer, but you can watch a replay on the CBC TV network and CBCSports.ca on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

Canada has a new coach. Facing the best team in the world with a depleted roster isn’t the ideal setup for your first match as a senior national team head coach, but that’s the spot Bev Priestman is in tonight. Prior to replacing Kenneth Heiner-Moller in November, the 34-year-old spent two seasons as an assistant with the national team in her native England. Before that, she led Canada’s developmental program, was the head coach of the women’s under-17 and under-20 teams, and served as an assistant under former coach John Herdman at the 2015 Women’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, where Canada won its second consecutive bronze medal. Read about how Priestman is approaching her new job and watch Signa Butler’s interview with her here.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Signa Butler explains the SheBelieves Cup:

Signa Butler breaks down the basics of the SheBelieves Cup, and what participating in the tournament means for Team Canada 2:41

Quickly…

The Blue Jays will start the season in Florida. They confirmed today that their first two homestands, at least, will be played at their spring-training stadium in Dunedin. After that, team president Mark Shapiro said, the Jays could move their home games to Buffalo, where they played them last year. He added that the team would like to return to Toronto “as soon as it is safe to do so,” but there’s no timetable for that. The Jays open their 162-game regular season April 1 in New York against the Yankees, and their home opener is April 8. Read more about the Jays’ temporary move to Florida here.

Naomi Osaka is one win away from her fourth Grand Slam title. The Australian Open’s No. 3 seed easily beat Serena Williams in last night’s marquee semifinal and will face 22nd-seeded Jennifer Brady in the final on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET. If she defeats Brady, who’s never played in a Grand Slam final, Osaka will have won four of the last nine Slams. Since she won her first, at the 2018 U.S. Open, no other woman has won more than one. The men’s final matchup will be decided early Friday when No. 4 Daniil Medvedev plays No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas. The winner faces world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.

Bianca Andreescu lost in the semifinals of her tournament. The Phillip Island Trophy event in Melbourne is for players who either didn’t qualify for the Australian Open or got knocked out early, so the competition isn’t the strongest. But, after losing in the second round of the Aussie, Andreescu got in four more valuable matches as she tries to shake off the rust from her 15-month layoff. And she can still squeeze in a few more in Australia despite today’s three-set defeat to 50th-ranked Marie Bouzkova. There’s a tournament in Adelaide starting Sunday, and Tennis Canada said Andreescu is “tentatively entered” in it. 

The new president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee is a woman who competed in seven Olympic Games. Seiko Hashimoto is a fitting replacement for 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori, who was fired for making sexist remarks. Before taking the job, the 56-year-old Hashimoto was the country’s Olympic minister as well as the minister for women’s empowerment. She competed in three Summer Olympics as a cyclist and four Winter Olympics as a speed skater, winning bronze in the 1,500 metres at the 1992 Winter Games. Read more about Hashimoto here and about how a 22-year-old college student launched the campaign that helped bring down Mori here.

Another big-name quarterback is getting traded. A few weeks after the Lions swapped Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff, the Eagles have reportedly agreed to send Carson Wentz to the Colts for a pair of draft picks. Wentz was an MVP contender in 2017 until he got hurt late in the season and watched backup Nick Foles lead Philly to a Super Bowl victory. He’s struggled since then and was downright awful in 2020, throwing 15 interceptions and only 16 TDs. Indy needed a QB after Philip Rivers retired, and head coach Frank Reich was Wentz’ offensive co-ordinator for that MVP-calibre season in Philly. Read more about the trade here.

The Canadian men’s water polo team faces a tough path to the Olympics. Today’s 19-6 drubbing by Greece dropped Canada’s record at the last-chance qualifying tournament in the Netherlands to 1-0-3. Canada finished fourth in its group, which is good enough to advance to the quarter-finals, but it will have to face the top team in the other group. That’s Russia, which went undefeated in its five round-robin games. A loss would end Canada’s hopes of landing one of the three remaining spots in the Olympic tournament. The game is Friday at 2 p.m. ET and you can watch it live here.

Also coming up on CBC Sports

Alpine skiing world championships: Watch the two runs of the men’s giant slalom live Friday at 4 a.m. ET and 7:30 a.m. ET here. Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami won today’s women’s giant slalom for her second gold medal of these world championships. American star Mikaela Shiffrin finished second and now has a medal of each colour, with the slalom — her best event — still to come.

Ski cross: Canada’s Reece Howden has won three of the last four World Cup events to open up a big lead in the men’s season standings. Canada’s Marielle Thompson is second in the women’s chase after reaching five of the last six podiums. Watch them both race live Friday starting at 5:30 a.m. ET. here.

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